Saturday, May 23, 2015

Jesus Defines True Discipleship

 Jesus said, "If you abide (meno - remain, continue, endure) in My word, you are My disciples indeed." (John 8:31, NKJV)

Jesus just set the bar on what it means or what demonstrates that an individual who claims to be a child of God is really a child of God. Being a child of God is not by believing or assenting to a set or system of facts or information. Becoming a child of God is not intellectual.

What does it mean to 'abide, remain, continue, or endure in the word of Christ? Let's take a look at a couple of dependable commentators and see if we can grasp the meaning of this sentence.

William Hendriksen writes this:

One abides in the word of Christ by making it the rule of one's life. In other words, obedience is the same thing as abiding in the word. This makes one a true disciple of Jesus and leads to genuine knowledge of the truth (God's special revelation which has its heart and center in the work of Christ). [1]

Leon Morris comments:

“It is best to think that John is speaking to men who had made an outward profession, but that in this particular case it did not go very deep. Jesus’ words then are meant to drive home to formal and casual adherents something of the meaning of true discipleship. If men in any sense believe in Him it is important that they be led to see what real faith means…the key word is “abide.” It is easy enough to be attracted in a superficial fashion, but the test is abiding. It is only those who continue who are genuine disciples…He is not laying down a condition of discipleship, but telling them in what discipleship consists. When a man abides in Christ’s word, then he is a true disciple.” [2]

D. A. Carson adds this thought:

“…Jesus now lays down exactly what it is that separates spurious faith from true faith, fickle disciples from genuine disciples: If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. The verb rendered “hold” is meno, to abide, to remain – a theme of critical importance that returns in a concentrated way in Ch. 15. A genuine believer remains in Jesus’ “word” (logos), his teaching: i.e. such a person obeys it, seeks to understand it better, and finds it more precious, more controlling, precisely when other forces flatly oppose it. It is the one who continues in the teaching who has both the Father and the Son.” [3]

Is this your understanding of what true discipleship is? Do you concur that genuine salvation is demonstrated by a remaining, enduring, continuing, or abiding in the word of God?

This causes me to take a good look at my level of commitment and type of commitment that I have towards God’s Word, contained in the Bible. Remember, James, the Lord’s half-brother said,

 “Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. 22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 25 But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. (James 1:21-25, ESV)

It is not enough to hear the word in order to be a disciple, we must continue to obey the word. What think ye?

[1] William Hendriksen, The Gospel of John, New Testament Commentary, Vol. 1 (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1976), p. 52

[2] Leon Morris, The Gospel According to John, NICNT, (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1971), p. 455-456

[3] D. A. Carson, The Gospel According to John, The Pillar NT Commentary, (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1991), p. 348

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